The Importance of… Diligence
by Anton Jarrod
In this fifth short article of seven, which draws a very general attention to certain key factors that impact upon the development of the individual, according to my own perspective (yet, which the individual or community in question may observe and validate experimentally), I wish to focus now on diligence.
At a first consideration, diligence may not seem very different from conscientiousness, the subject of the preceding article in this series. However, closer reflection upon both the meaning of the word and my use of it, and the reality of the thing to which the word refers, reveals the fundamentally different nature of these terms.
Etymologically, the word derives from the Latin dīligent-em, indicating carefulness, assiduousness. In use, at least since the 14th century, this carefulness has been bound up with the implicit understanding of “constancy”, which is to say, carefulness over time (see the definition and usage in the Oxford English Dictionary, for example). As an adjective applied to persons and actions, the word indicates steadiness, perseverance, as exemplified over time. In former times, the word also signified a certain attentiveness, and an observant nature of persons and their actions as well as attentiveness to others, although this meaning is now generally obsolete. However, in my own usage of the word (as is in fact very often the case with other words) all of these meanings are indicated by “diligence”: the constant assiduousness and care of the individual to activity or practice, to self in activity or practice, and to others, as exemplified over time.
Reflecting more upon the actuality of diligence in life as opposed to on the page of the dictionary, one finds actions and practices that are sometimes more diligent and sometimes less. As with all qualitative values, diligence – like conscientiousness – can be observed to exist in fact on a scale, where, relative to any one activity or practice, diligence may be found to be greater or lesser. Within the experience of the individual or community, former activities can be apprehended to have been of a greater or lesser quality of diligence; activities of a more mundane kind, as well as of a more significant.
In ordinary life, one may understand something of how “diligent” activity or practice differs from that which is not diligent. Perhaps the most common understanding of diligence comes from the world of business, as “due diligence”. Here, the process of thoroughly investigating the business entity is indicated over a period of time: the accounts may be audited; the systems of administration reviewed and outlined; key transactions may be analysed and a whole host of meetings, questions, and procedures may be instigated over time to examine and understand something of the nature of the business in question and its viability and security etc. Due diligence is the practical application of diligent attention in a business context, and can give one an indication of how it indicates a thoroughly different process to ordinary, internal management processes and review.
Also in ordinary life, one may think of the practice of the artisan or the artist, especially as regards those activities or works that are executed or created over a long time. It is easy to understand the nature of diligence when it is used to describe the working of the artist creating a masterpiece over decades, or the stonemason in the construction of a large building, or the whole endeavour of many individuals in the same construction decade after decade, generation after generation. In these areas, diligence indicates a higher quality of activity, care, concentration and attentiveness over long periods of time, exhibited by the master of crafts or art. In ordinary life, or rather, that life with which most people are either directly or indirectly familiar, diligence can be seen to indicate a certain quality of activity or practice, which may further be observed to be of different qualities itself.
Diligence as it is found in both the business and the cultural arenas of human experience can give the developing individual or community enough of an illustrative context with which it may understand what is indicated by the same term in this article. It is something like this diligence, this kind of high quality diligence, that is entirely necessary to both enter upon and proceed towards and through the development of what I have termed the non-standard apprehension of the new disclosure. Indeed, without it, as with all the other important factors, very little can be achieved.
It might be observed that an ordinary, high quality diligence is necessarily involved in achievement of difficult and challenging works. How much more then is necessary to achieve the most extraordinary heights that are indicated by the development of even the most elementary forms of non-standard development? Development and extension into those terrains must require the most exceptional kind of diligence humanity can display as standard. What is more, this must apply equally to the most elementary stages of that evolution as to the more advanced.
It is not the case that one factor is more or less important than another. Indeed, they are all as equally important, and nothing but the most exceptional application to practice and activity will suffice for the development of inherent human capacities.
 Oxford English Dictionary, 1989.